Video heaven: Fiber comes to Loho

I knew there was a reason I had the oldest TV in Jackson.

It seemed so simple. Wait until the prices drop so low, you can’t resist. Then wait another five years.

I really wanted my old TV to die first, but it seemed likely it might be me who beat it to the graveyard.

For years, I noted the prices of the Samsung TVs in the Clarion-Ledger’s Cowboy Maloney ad. Now I could buy a decent size high definition TV for a couple hundred dollars. But still I hesitated.

In the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t that simple. In this interconnected technological age, it never is. One thing leads to another. It starts as a prudent plan to purchase a next-generation TV at a low price. It ends with completely rewiring your entire house and buying all new computers, modems, routers . . . the works!

The first step down that primrose path began with me innocently Googling “advances in television technology” before I made my low-cost purchase.

Come to find out, the $300 HD TV I had planned to buy is obsolete. The world has moved on to 4K – four times the resolution of high definition. I was about to skip an entire generation of technology.

There was much discussion on the internet about whether 4K was worth it. At some point, your eyeballs can’t tell the difference. So I took the whole family to Cowboy Maloney’s for an eyeball test. The 4K passed with flying colors. I was hooked. Before I knew it, I was walking out with a 60-inch Samsung 4K Smart TV with a soundbar. So much for spending $300.

I was worried there would not be much 4K content out there. But then God invented You Tube. Tens of thousands of 4K camera equipped drones have been launched by amateur producers from every conceivable corner of the world, bringing the entire world into my living room at a resolution equal to my own eyes.

Want to stroll down the streets of Paris? Do a 4K Paris search in You Tube and you’re there. Want to relax in Fiji? Relaxation Videos will let me spend an hour soaring in 4K beauty around the Fiji islands to the sound of beautiful music. Suddenly, the entire world was at my doorstep.

But it was not perfect in paradise. There was lag. It was beyond annoying. It was infuriating. The world was at my doorstep, but not quite yet. The process I had feared had begun.

My first step was to abandon Wi-Fi and run a 50-foot ethernet cable across my living room. Ginny did not approve. Then I realized my ethernet cable was Cat5 – several generations old. I needed Cat7.

Then even with Cat7, the You Tube  – now built into my TV – still lagged. Or even worse, it would automatically sense the slow connection and lower the resolution. I tried my Roku. It was a bit better. The research continued.

Turns out I could upgrade to a 4K Roku. That $100 device, plus my $25 Cat7 cable, got lag down to a manageable level. But I had tasted the sweetness of 4K and the longing of my desire spurred me on.

As fate would have it, the C-Spire tunnelers arrived not long after my new TV. Fiber was coming to Loho (formerly known as Leftover).

It takes a lot of mud digging to lay underground fiber, but now the grass has regrown and the magic has begun. I was one of the first in line for an installation.

Fiber is a lot faster than Comcast’s cable or AT&T U-verse’s DSL. A lot faster. And cheaper too. Plus C-Spire is a Mississippi company that employs my brother-in-law. Plus they advertise. Plus I actually know members of the founding family. It was a match made in heaven.

The day the installer actually called, my heart sank. I was excited about being on the bleeding edge of technology, but I wasn’t looking forward to bleeding that week. I had been down this road before with both Comcast and U-verse. Change is good but it’s never easy.

My installer Todd was a great guy. “Ever done a three-level house?” I asked. “No but that will change today,” he said cheerfully. Oh boy.

My house was already festooned with Comcast and U-verse wires. That helped move things along. Now the side of my house is packed with yet another TV box spewing wires.

Part of me wanted to get rid of the old wires, but you never know when you might need them. Todd told me I’d have to hire another company to clear out the old wires. That might be a business opportunity for an enterprising young man.

By the afternoon, the wiring was done. It was pretty slick. Most of the heavy-duty hardware was hidden in a cabinet that held our fancy dinner glasses that we never use. That being said, I was hoping for one tiny little electronic box that did it all. Nope. It was quite an array of modems, routers, connectors, power supplies, etc.

Some of the old Comcast cable coax was used thanks to a cool coax-to-Cat7 adapter. Fortunately, I have enough couches to hide all these wires behind.

Everything was working great. I even got to name my own network and create my own password. The 5G network was getting 250 megabits per second – 20 times faster. Wow! In addition, the new modems send out a simultaneous slower Wi-Fi signal that works with older devices. I was ecstatic.

We were almost done. It was too good to be true. The last TV to connect was my fancy Samsung. With U-verse, this was all automatic by just typing in my zip code and picking my service provider. But C-Spire is a little too local to make the list. Perhaps that’s the reason we got video but no sound. Oops.

We worked around this by routing the audio through the soundbar. Why would the audio not work through my Samsung TV but work through its separate Samsung soundbar? I have grown accustomed to accepting certain mysteries of the digital universe.

It took a couple of hours to mix and match my old Rokus with my old TVs until I got them all working. C-Spire is able to deliver incredible wireless speed by using the latest wireless technology. Unfortunately, older peripherals may lack this capability, so some wired connections were necessary.

I got the TV service, mainly for sports and the family. My neighbors are only getting the internet. With Roku, Chrome TV, Apple TV, Netflix and the like, the days of the old propriety channel lineups seem numbered.

A few days later, the inevitable weird networking error appeared on one of the TV screens. I was pleased to get C-Spire tech support quickly on the phone. “Unplug the modem. Wait 10 seconds. Then unplug the TV box.” I know this drill well. It worked.

My final challenge is to get my number of remotes from four to one. This is the Holy Grail of personal technological achievement, requiring every ounce of personal computer savvy one can muster. Maybe I’ll pass.

To sum up, I am delighted with C-Spire fiber. The speed is at least 10 times faster, maybe 20. And that’s wireless. The 4K lag is zero. Everybody in the family can be streaming and recording video at once with no problems. Fiber is an amazing leap forward.

But don’t kid yourself. It involves substantial rewiring. There’s a new TV interface to master. Older computers won’t have the right Wi-Fi antennaes. Lots of old cables and devices will need to be replaced. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Switching services is a major undertaking.

After all was done, I stuffed another generation of old cables and obsolete gizmos in a special cupboard for that purpose. Surveying 40 years of antique cables, outdated cords, random power supplies and obsolete gizmos, I almost became nostalgic. Time marches on.

The C-Spire tech support guy told me C-Spire will soon roll out a new service that does everything wirelessly with hardly any hardware. “It’s going to be awesome,” he said.


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